"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful for Forgiveness....

Thanksgiving brings a season of joy in the hearts of many Americans. People smile at this time of year that may not have smiled all year. People are cheerful and hearts are full of love. Everyone is excited about spending quality time with family and friends, since we are so busy multitasking each day of our lives that we have no time left to just enjoy the company of one another. And, this is the one time of the year that the majority of American citizens discuss what they are most thankful for. Many times, we list family, friends, and some may even list material things.

It is my hope that as God lends His ear to my prayers daily that He feels a heart full of thanksgiving. I constantly thank God for His blessings, miracles, grace, mercy, and love. But something came over me in my church service yesterday that has challenged me to thank God for something super special this thanksgiving. I am thanking God for His forgiveness.

Now, let me just say that I was conditioned to always thank God for everything. The problem with being conditioned to do something is that it becomes a habit. You begin to express acts without even thinking about it first. Danger can lie in being conditioned to pray or thank God because it removes the sincerity and authenticity from your prayer and praise of thanks. With that said, I have always thanked God for forgiveness, but I wonder how many of those times were conditional thanks?

Yesterday, as I sat in church, God led me to a place of forgiveness. There was a particular person in my church that I needed to forgive, and up until yesterday I thought that I had. This person had wronged me in such a way that I just could not come to a place of understanding or forgiveness. I even went through a period in my worship that as hard as I tried I was unable to praise God in His own house! I was not angry at God, but my anger towards this person was blocking me from being what God wanted to do in my life, and was a hindrance in my praise and prayer life. I had so many emotions, that I could not even feel when my spirit was attempting to rise and overtake my emotions. I asked my church for prayer, and they prayed for me.

At this point, I felt like I had released so much. I felt that I had let go of the anger. I could praise again! I learned on Sunday that releasing and emotion, such as anger, is not equivalent to forgiveness. Just because I was no longer angry at this person did not mean that I had fully forgiven them. This person made a choice on Sunday, and I had no choice but to forgive them for what they had done to me. You see, when you relinquish all of your control to God, He will do things with you that even you do not understand! I talked with this person and extended myself to them for a shoulder to lean on and a resource to call when things get tough. This person knew that I had fully forgiven them as well. As I embraced this person, it was almost as if I felt the issue leave my body completely. I felt God take over my heart and cleanse me of this unforgiveness that was hidden in the depths of my heart. How wonderful was this feeling!

Later on that day, in my conversation with God, I began to question why God had moved me in such a way. It was unexpected to me! I wondered why I had covered these feelings up for so long. I wondered if it was justifiable that I felt that this person had wronged me.

Searching the scriptures, I landed on 1 John 1:9 which states, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV)

My thoughts began to focus on Christ's forgiveness that he so graciously pours upon me. Despite my unworthiness and messiness, despite my excuses that I have given for my disobedience, despite my hard heart toward my brothers and sisters in Christ, despite my ungratefulness, despite my nasty attitude, despite my negativity, despite my_____ (I could probably go on and on....), God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross just for the FORGIVENESS of my sins! And, I have the nerve to justify why I am unable to forgive someone else. WOW!

Today I am thanking God for forgiveness authentically and sincerely, and not conditionally, because when I look back at all the times that I have wronged God, yet He still forgave me, it makes the mountainous task of forgiving someone else a more simple task, even if they have wronged me once, twice, or numerous times. The number of times that someone has wronged us is irrelevant because the number of times that we have wronged God is infinite, meaning it cannot be counted by us. I know I would be ashamed and embarrassed if I even knew the number.

Forgiveness is not an easy feat. The same way that we are forgiven daily (if we ask daily), we should be open to allowing God to help us forgive others daily. I even thought about the possibility that we have all wronged people unintentionally, and they forgave us. Who are we not to do the same? Some of the situations in which people we have hurt others the most, we may never know of. This is only one of numerous reasons that we should ask for God's forgiveness daily. The beautiful part about this cycle of forgiveness is that God will always forgive us if we only ask! What a wonderful quality of God to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and every day to come!

Father, I thank You now for Your wonderful, forgiving, spirit. Lord, I realize that if it were not for Your forgiveness, I would be low and desolate. I love You Lord. I ask that You help me continually release my spirit of judgment, and that You manifest Your sweet spirit of forgiveness in my heart. Lord, You have been so wonderful to me. I thank you for those that have forgiven me when I have wronged them. Please continue to mold me into what You will have me to be. Thank You Lord and I love You with every inch of my heart today!

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